I first discovered that I really enjoyed the slow journey of experiencing a country by walking through it when I trekked to Everest Base Camp in 2009. Sore feet and breathlessness aside it was a great way to see Nepal. The views, the landscape, the guides that we walked with — all were magnificent to meet see and experience. And I really enjoyed the long days of just walking. There were 11 other trekkers and 4 guides in our group and we often met up and walked with others and just got talking and walking. There were a mix of countries represented in our group, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Philippines, America and Australia so their stories were varied and with 12 days of walking plenty of time to hear them all.
Then I took on the Oxfam 100km challenge. A team of four of us started out fresh as daisies with only some of us staggering over the finish line some 30 hours later, smelling less than fresh with very sore blistered feet. And once was not enough, we did that 3 times and finished our 4th effort with a 55 km challenge. The Sunday hikes that were our training walks really bonded the team as we all got to know each other in some very extreme situations. And now they know and have experienced a very grumpy Jane when she gets zero sleep after 24 hours of walking. Those whole days spent hiking through lovely national parks and simply enjoying being outside were part of the Oxfam experience. Sometimes those days were way too hot and way too long as we started to get worried about our fitness and pushed our boundaries but everyone got to know each other better and how to support each other to make the long journey. Foot stress fractures, dehydration and sore knees certainly bonded us as a team but extreme walking does take a toll on the body and this year we decided not to participate. And sadly our Sunday hikes tapered off to nothing too.
To keep myself walking I got a fitbit for Christmas (and am now challenged by the existential question “If my walking is not recorded on the Fitbit did I really walk?”). A friend agreed to walk with me at the very early hour I needed to leave by — 4.15am. I have a 3 hour daily commute so need to have a very early start if I am to fit that walk in. So 4 days a week we have been walking our 6km since January. On the other 3 days I train with a trainer and also do a group training session on Saturdays to increase my fitness. We never missed a day unless it was really pouring with rain as neither of us wanted to let the other down. But now my friend has gone walkabout for 4 months to the Kimberley in Western Australia and I find myself without a walking companion. And even after establishing a 5 month habit of getting up before 4am to get ready to walk I find it very easy to have an excuse not to walk.
I realise I actually like to walk in company! And I cannot seem to convince any family, friends or acquaintances to come with me at that time in the morning. Especially now that it is dark and a little bit colder.
So I have decided that there is a need for a Tinder for walkers. Surely that is a startup idea. Maybe a Uber platform for walking companions. A swipe right if you need to walk at 4am and want to start a healthy fitness regime and there I am all ready to set off at a brisk pace. Am positive someone could work out how to make a dollar out of it. Now to find that software developer and a new business could be born!
Have my walking clothes sorted, hat at the ready, alarm set and just have to get up and go! Happy walking.